Not everyone likes to play fair.
Rocket League has a cheating problem. And that could be a big issue for the driving and soccer hybrid — it’s currently the top-selling game on the Steam digital store (along with being popular on PlayStation 4, where it was a free download for PS Plus subscribers). One particular player, going by the name Vlads, is winning matches by somehow manipulating the location of their car, as spotted in the gameplay video embedded above. The video makes for peculiar viewing as Vlads’ opponent can barely get a touch on the oversized ball while Vlads’ car seemingly teleports around the arena at will.
Cheating is a problem in a lot of online games, but it’s more common to see it in first-person shooters. Arma developer Bohemia Interactive estimates that around 1 percent of gamers are actually willing to spend money on tools that help them cheat. That doesn’t sound a lot, but when you have a large community of players — like the one developing around Rocket League — it can be a serious problem.
Rocket League developer Psyonix is already aware of this particular cheater and is working to patch whatever loophole Vlads’ is currently exploiting.
Asked on Reddit if Vlads is sending false car coordinates to the game’s servers, Psyonix founder Dave Hagewood replied, “The server determines your coordinates, not the other way around. It’s quite a bit sneakier than this, but we’ll find it.”
Hagewood explained how Psyonix chose to use dedicated servers for Rocket League to take ownership of its physics and stop players players manipulating them. He pointed out that there are “lingering bugs” that his team need to iron out, though, in order to stamp out certain types of cheating. But he also admitted that client-side cheats — interactions carried out at the player’s end — will still be possible.
“One of the reasons we decided to use dedicated servers was to take control over the authoritative physics for each game so it could not be manipulated by clients,” said Hagewood. “This is a sound strategy that will prevent manipulation of the ball and car physics, even on PC.
“Does that mean it is absolutely not possible to cheat once the holes are found? No, but the cheating is limited to client-side information, meaning the same information you already know about the game just by looking around the field. Can this give you an advantage? Maybe a bit, but we seriously doubt it will help you beat any significantly better player.”
Hagewood said cheating isn’t just limited to PC players. He also explained that it’s a lot more complicated to cheat in Rocket League than in a first-person shooter, where players can use the automatic lock-on powers of an aimbot.
“In Rocket League, you need to understand a lot more about the laws of the physical universe to know what to do [in order to cheat],” he said. “You will be facing the same sort of physics problems that robot engineers in the DARPA challenge face.”
Going forward, Hagewood said his team will be looking out for unusual player behavior to help stamp out cheating.
“We can add player-reporting and statistical analysis to detect ‘Player A just did something impossible,’” he said. “We do this regularly on other games. We’re really just getting started here.”